Kevin Ransom Ann Arbor
Courtesy Photo

Members of Ann Arbor's renowned folk and blues scene came together Monday night to help longtime local music writer Kevin Ransom.  A set of debilitating health problems have music critic Kevin Ransom close to losing his home. 

When listeners aren't writing to NPR to comment on a story, they mostly just want to know what music was played between segments. We call those buttons or breaks or deadrolls, and they give a breath after reporting a tragedy, lighten the mood after you most definitely cried during StoryCorps, or seize a moment to be ridiculously cheeky. How could you not play Katy Perry's "Hot N Cold" following a story about why women shiver in the office?

Lots of magazines do big lists, but few rely on them as heavily as Rolling Stone does. The magazine cranks out a list for just about every aspect of popular music. All promise authoritative, canonical overviews of various elements of the art; at their best, these offer context and critical insight, helping readers fill gaps in their knowledge.

The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Detroit trumpeter Marcus Belgrave has passed away at age 78. Belgrave died at in a care and rehabilitation facility, Ann Arbor's Glacier Hills. His partner, singer Joan Belgrave, said he died in his sleep. 

Shari Kane and Dave Steele
courtesy of the artist

Warm and delicious as hot buttered cinnamon toast, as easy and relaxed as a rewarding after-dinner talk and as soothing as Sunday morning.  That’s my immediate reaction to Feels Like Home, the new album by Shari Kane and Dave Steele.  It’s a perfect complement to the couple’s first recording, Four Hands Blues.  They continue their loving exploration of classic American music including Piedmont and Delta blues along with mountain gospel, Appalachian ballads and ragtime swing guitar.  What differentiates Feels Like Home from Four Hands Blues is the home setting.  Shari and Dave actually built a home studio and took their good sweet time working through each song as we eavesdrop on their intimate conversation involving call and response from acoustic guitar to mandolin to voice.  

If you gave $150 or more to WEMU this spring, your admission for two is a bonus premium and your name is on the guest list for the Blues Barbecue Thursday, June 11th, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. outside at the EMU Convocation Center (In the atrium in case of rain). 

courtesy of the artist

Alberto Nacif, the former and founding host of the program Cuban Fantasy has every reason in the world to be proud of Invisible, the new CD by his Latin jazz ensemble, Aguankó. He joined me in studio to discuss his partnership with fellow percussionist Jose Pepe Espinosa and his deep admiration for Michigan's great musicians including Marcus Belgrave, Rick Roe, Robert Hurst, Russ Miller, Chris Smith and Anthony Stanco. 

Clark Terry, Marcus Belgrave
Wikimedia Commons

When NEA Jazz Master, trumpeter Clark Terry passed away on February 21st, 2015, the jazz world was in mourning.  The mourning did not last long however, as tributes to Terry’s ebullient personality, musical mastery and generous nature as a mentor and jazz educator sprang from all around the globe.  I called trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, Detroit’s senior jazz statesman for his thoughts on Clark Terry’s jazz genius.  

Jim McGuire / courtesy of the artist

Throughout 2015, The Ark will present many special concerts to celebrate their 50th Anniversary.  The first of these is this Sunday at the Power Center, featuring the husband and wife banjo duo of Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn.  

89.1 WEMU and Sesi Motors present the 5:01 First Friday Series dedicated to the memory of the late Dr. Jan Winkelman. Join us for a 5:01 celebration of music featuring Ann Arbor jazz legend and bassist Ron Brooks for his annual holiday 5:01 Jazz show at Rush Street.

Join WEMU in celebrating Thanksgiving in a few different ways this year. Unwind while you're cooking your holiday feast, and listen in to Linda Yohn for a heft serving of Stuffy Turkey, Grits and Gravy, Sweet Potato Pie, and all of your other musical food favorites! 

    Listen to all of your favorite weekend programs from Saturday 11/22/2014 and Sunday 11/23/2014. This includes full versions of The Roots Music Project, The Groove Yard and The In Crowd with Jessica Webster that are only available online.

    Get ready for trick-or-treat season with these spooky tunes.

    89.1 WEMU and Sesi Motors present the 5:01 First Friday Jazz Series dedicated to the memory of the late Dr. Jan Winkelman.

    Join us for a 5:01 pm celebration of music and fun at Rush Street.  We will return to Rush Street, 314 South Main between Liberty and William Streets in Ann Arbor.  


    Listen to our interview earlier this week with drummer and singer Leonard King. King visited the WEMU studio to discuss his major project:  The Lyman Woodard Organization For the Arts.  In the 1970s Leonard joined the group led by Detroit organist Lyman Woodard and became a major player in Detroit jazz, soul, blues and dance music.  Leonard reminisced  warmly about Lyman Woodard's important and inspirational position in Detroit musical history as well as his own. 

    Walter White
    Walter White

    Labor Day weekend is not generally considered an optimum time to release a new record, but for Detroit jazz musicians; there is no better time to showcase your new music than at The Detroit Jazz Festival which starts this Friday, August 29th.  Trumpeter Walter White has taken advantage of this auspicious time to release and celebrate his latest offering Most Triumphant on Summit Records.  His CD release concert will be Sunday, August 31st at 2PM on the Waterfront Stage.

    Walter White is held in highest regard worldwide for his early work with Bob James, Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman, The White-Margitza Quintet and The Mingus Big Band. After making significant musical marks in New York City and Miami, Walter White returned to his home state of Michigan where he remains incredibly musically active.  He performs in shows at The Fisher Theater, leads international clinics and master classes, teaches at Oakland University and now records for Summit Records.  


    Walter joined Linda Yohn at WEMU to talk about Most Triumphant which boasts a trio Detroit jazz luminaries:  pianist Gary Schunk, bassist Miles Brown and drummer Sean Dobbins.  Walter shared insight about his early musical life in Ferndale Michigan, his love of Maynard Ferguson, his formative years at The Julliard School Of Music, his philosophy of musical practice and his early association with The Detroit Jazz Festival 35 years ago.  

    WEMU's Michael Jewett sits down with Mr. B (Mark Braun) to talk about his efforts to traverse the length of the Missisippi River by piano bike to promote and increase access for children's arts and athletics programs in local communities all over the US.  

    • Listen to the full interview, above.
    Patrik Holubik / 89.1 WEMU


    Detroiter and bassist Rodney Whitaker’s list of accomplishments is long and impressive. It includes a discography of 7 CDs as a leader including his newest “When We Find Ourselves Alone” on Detroit’s Mack Avenue Records label and over 80 sessions as a sideman.

    His sideman associations are stellar. Leading luminaries of jazz including Roy Hargrove, Terence Blanchard, Dianne Reeves, Johnny Griffin, Kevin Mahogany, Eric Reed and Wynton Marsalis have relied on Rodney’s impeccable timing, tone, strength and grace.

    "Reliable" is great word to describe Rodney Whitaker. He is father to a family of 7, leads the internationally recognized jazz studies program at Michigan State University and performs and records world-wide. Rodney joined WEMU’s Linda Yohn to discuss his life in music and his new CD as well as the Mack Avenue Superband recording from the 2013 Detroit Jazz Festival.

    Rodney directed the Superband and will lead the 2014 version of the star-studded assembly at the upcoming Detroit Jazz Festival over Labor Day Weekend. He will also lead the MSU Big Band and his Soul-R Energy Quartet in celebration of “When We Find Ourselves Alone”. Linda Yohn found herself in great company with Rodney Whitaker.

    *Listen to the audio above and you are bound to agree.

    Linda Yohn
    W. Streety

    89.1, WEMU’s Music Director, Linda Yohn, Wins National Jazz Programmer Of The Year For The Fifth Time

       89.1 WEMU’s Music Director, Linda Yohn, was named ‘Jazz Programmer of the Year,’ in a major market Friday, August 8, at the JazzWeek Summit's annual awards dinner in San Jose, CA.   This is the fifth programmer of the year award for Yohn who was nominated  in 2006 and 2008 and won four years  in a row; 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.  She was nominated again in 2013 and won again in 2014

      The Lunar Glee Club rocked Ann Arbor’s musical world in the 1980s and early ‘90s with their jazz, Afrobeat, funk, calypso and Latin fusion.  Sunday July 27th, all 9 original members of the band will present a 30th Reunion Concert at Kerrytown Concert House.  

    The First African-American Piano Manufacturer

    May 9, 2014
    Courtesty of Warren Shadd

    89.1 WEMU’s free Sesi Motors – Jan Winkelman 5:01 Jazz series springs to life Friday, May 2nd with Drummer Sean Dobbins.

    Jazz Appreciation Month wraps up on Wednesday, April 30th with International Jazz Day.